Inspired by Louis L’Amour and targeting fans of the western genre, Paul K. Brown writes The Llano Kid series in which he traces the journey of his title character. In the third book of the series: Cactus Valley Lawman, readers learn the origin of the protagonist’s name, as well as additional pieces to the story of this young man who was orphaned as a boy. Now, Llano has taken on a job as security and scout for a wagon train heading west to California. When the wagon train is ambushed, Billy Nevil’s Ma is killed, leaving her son Billy an orphan at age twelve. Seeing himself inRead More →

Writing a western set in the 1870s, Paul K. Brown invites readers on a ride with The Llano Kid, the first of the Llano Kid Adventures. Half Cherokee and half Irish, Llano was orphaned when he was twelve.  On Llano’s path to young adulthood, Brown recounts various encounters with drunks, bullies, thieves, and gunmen who seem to prefer bravado or mob mentality without any notion for getting the facts.  Now nineteen and seasoned by these experiences, Llano is looking for a place to find honest work and to hang his hat. However, he will have to navigate the harsh code of the West and theRead More →

A magical and enchanting tale of adventure, The Color of Dragons by R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis will likely intrigue readers of Christopher Paolini or Anne McCaffrey. Besides a story about finding one’s self, Salvatore and Lewis tell a story about love, loyalty, and other things worth fighting for. Seventeen-year-old Maggie and Griffin are both orphans trying to find their place in the world. Just as Griffin must decide if his place is with the corpulent and greedy King Umbert serving as his champion: “Sir Griffin, the mighty Draignoch Slayer” (92), Maggie must determine whether she owes allegiance to Xavier, the magician and perhaps theRead More →

Taking place in 19th century England, this book begins with torture and intrigue. Immediately we’re dropped into a London full of smog and flickering lanterns. The world is cold and merciless, setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil. Will, the protagonist, finds himself hiding in London after his mother is murdered. It doesn’t take long for Will’s enemies to find him and when they do Will is thrust into a magical world he didn’t know existed. He is revealed to be the last champion for the Light, the last barrier standing between the world that he knows and one that isRead More →

Haunted by the spot on the wall where her finisher patch should go, seventeen-year-old Sadie Scofield is determined to finish the Texas River Odyssey after giving up and then getting injured when she partnered with her dad. Because Scofields never quit, Sadie is living in a shadow of regret as she clings to the “can’t keep up” memory and allows it to erode the relationship with her father. Anyone belonging to the discourse community of river rats or competitive boaters/racers will likely be on the same wave length as those in Holly Green’s young adult novel, In the Same Boat. Talking of sweepers, log jams,Read More →

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley gets a major update with The Block by Ben Oliver. In Oliver’s second book in The Loop Trilogy targeted for young adults, readers will experience a video game vibe, like that achieved in The Matrix. Along with the characters, they will wonder what is real and what is simulated. In this new dystopian world, everybody’s happy because Happy—an artificial intelligence—rules the world.  Galen Rye is in charge, and he decides who suffers as a battery—without hopes, dreams, and ambitions as they power the world with their energy harvested from pain, fear, and anger.  He decides who should be brainwashed intoRead More →

Inspired by West African folklore, Roseanne A. Brown writes an action-packed tale infused with magical twists, family secrets, and cultural diversity.  Her debut YA novel, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin features Karina Alahari and Malik Hilali—two protagonists on a trajectory to self-discovery and potential destruction. Running and unraveling riddles are what Malik does best, although he is also prone to panic attacks, dreaming, and wandering alone.  Having been beaten as a child for discussing his hallucinations, creating illusions, and communicating with supernatural beings called the grim folk, Malik’s powers have taken more from him than they have given. Karina, on the other hand, isRead More →

Given the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the world, Katharyn Blair‘s novel Unchosen is eerily relevant. Fans of Suzanne Collins, Scott Westerfeld, Mercedes Lackey, and Brandon Sanderson will also cheer for the strong female characters and appreciate the engaging and action-packed story. In Blair’s dystopia, someone has knowingly or inadvertently unleashed the Crimson, a virus-like curse that causes the end of the world as we know it. Rather than wearing face masks, people wear blindfolds because looking into the wrong eyes is a death sentence. When infected, a person’s irises turn from their natural color to purple and then to red. That individual has only oneRead More →

Just as Sara Zapata believes in doing good, no matter the cost, her brother Emiliano believes in the need to do something good with his life. Because of their convictions, they are forced to flee from Juarez, Mexico, to escape persecution and retaliation from human traffickers. Seeking asylum, they cross the border into the United States, but an attack ensues. Afterwards, Sara finds herself in the Fort Stockton Detention Center; however, her brother has escaped with the contraband that put their lives in jeopardy in the first place: Leopoldo Hinnjosa’s phone. Hinojosa is the man responsible for the enslavement and abuse of multiple women, andRead More →